Anxiety Attacks doesn’t need to wander far from its inspiration to earn its status as a horror experience; there are no jumpscares or monsters—just the knowledge that you might not be in control of what you see and feel, that something as simple as moving and breathing can become a chore to juggle. It is, in short, a mental breakdown simulator, emulating the experiences of those who suffer from anxiety disorders and anxiety attacks.
You start in a bright forest, greeted with flowers and birdsong; the sun is bright, and the world is rich and vivid. You are given only a few commands: find a safe zone and control your breathing.
As you wander through the woods, if you lose the rhythm of your breath, the world loses its color and darkness sets in. The sound of struggled breathing overpowers the gentle rustle of leaves,the bird twittering. Messages pop up on-screen: “Am I crazy?… I can’t breath…. Fail.”
“Everything has been carefully studied to let you achieve anxiety while you play,” says developer Alessandro Salvati, also known as NeatWolf, on the game’s Steam Greenlight description. “The playtime as well has been tailored to reflect anxiety, long enough to deliver you the feeling and the message, without trying to overdo.” Salvati said he used his own experience with long-term anxiety in the game’s design.
The game’s mechanics revolve around what you’re supposed to do in an actual anxiety attack—keep on moving, find a safe space, and focus on controlling your breathing. Even so, the threat of another anxiety attack is always there, a feeling that many who suffer from anxiety can attest to.
Anxiety Attacks isn’t recommended for those who already suffer from anxiety disorders, depression, or similar disorders. But, for the rest of us, it definitely sheds some light on an experience that is very scary indeed.
You can download Anxiety Attacks on Windows here.
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